Rebuild the mental health care system.
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The United States current mental health care system is still broken, even if it has improved a tremendous amount since the early & mid 1900s. Right now is one of the worst times to be mentally ill in the U.S. Unless something is done about this, then it's just going to keep getting worse and worse. There is a severe shortage of inpatient facilities and mental health care professionals, as well declining insurance reimbursement rates and increasing bureaucratic hurdles that are causing more psychiatric providers to stop accepting insurance. This is a huge problem, especially for those who are unable to pay out of pocket. These patients typically see non-psychiatric physicians and other extended-care providers who handle more than 90% of psychiatric care in the U.S., yet only receive 6-12 weeks of psychiatric training over the course of their entire med school & training careers.
This leads to misdiagnoses as well as under diagnoses. For example, only 20% of patients with bipolar disorder have been correctly diagnosed and in a third of bipolar patients, it takes at least 10 years to find a correct diagnoses. The focus for every provider needs to be diagnostic accuracy, and this will only come with increased training in mental health care.
Another issue with our mental health care system is most of the time patients are treated as criminals. I have personally been to an inpatient facility 2 times, each time was for a week. Each time I lied my way out because I hated it there. I wasn't respected as a person. Being there, at the facility, made things so much worse than they were before. All I could think about, day and night, was getting to go home. I was only allowed one hour with my family per day. The rest of the day was spent with people I didn't know. You know that there's a problem with inpatient facilities when a teen's mother or father can use taking you to the facility as a threat.
Apart from when you're actually staying at the facility, sometimes the patients who need help the most are overlooked, and turned away. They aren't admitted because there aren't enough beds, or the doctors simply don't think they should be admitted. Too many people have been turned away from the ER, only to go home and kill themselves,
I believe there is a way to fix our system, if we get enough people to realize the need for a better mental health care system. A few things that I think would help patients:
1. 24-hour hotlines for patient evaluation, treatment, and family information, as well as a federal website with referral resources.
2. Provide broad offerings for people with mental illnesses and facilitators for quick access to integrated care.
3. Develop an array of community-based services. For example, individual and group psychotherapy, marital and family therapy, substance abuse treatment, medication, rehab and supported housing options.
4. Provide accessible crisis and inpatient services, rather than the current resort to the ER. Timely crisis services, outpatient treatment, and quicker access to beds.
5. Build a stable funding stream for mental health care; long term state budget commitments, oversight of insurers' coverage decisions, and federal dollars to fill the gap.
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